As most people know, fish lay eggs. Betta fish, in particular, have a great deal of parental instinct, caring for their eggs and young for a few weeks. Bettas make floating bubble nests to care for their eggs and young, and as soon as they lay their eggs, they bring them to the nest. Since both parents can care for the young, is it possible for a female betta fish to lay eggs without a male, and if they can, will those eggs hatch?
While it is possible for female betta fish to lay eggs without a male being present, the eggs will not be able to hatch, and will often rot, leading to ammonia and nitrite spikes. Healthy female bettas will always be carrying some eggs, and if a male is not present, they will constantly reabsorb and recreate eggs. However, in some rare instances, female bettas will release/lay their eggs, with some even making a bubble nest and caring for them as if they were alive.
In this article, we will discuss why a female betta might lay eggs without a male present, what to do if they lay eggs, eggs in a sorority tank, and females making bubble nests.
What Causes Females to Lay Eggs Without a Male Being Present?
While it may seem surprising, it’s not unusual for female bettas to lay eggs when a male is not present. Most female bettas immediately eat their eggs, so many owners never notice their female betta laying any eggs. They also don’t lay eggs in the traditional sense, but rather just drop them to the floor.
If they have a bubble nest, some females will bring the eggs up into the nest and tend to them. Others will simply eat the eggs, and still, others will do nothing about the eggs. If your betta either tries to care for them or does nothing, you will have to remove the eggs.
Healthy female bettas are always carrying eggs, but they don’t normally release them without a male being present. There are a few things that can increase the chance that your female will randomly drop eggs, but for the most part, it tends to be random.
If you are conditioning your female for breeding, it is possible that she may release her eggs prematurely. By conditioning her, you are feeding her high-quality food meant to promote strength and egg growth. Sometimes, instead of reabsorbing her eggs like normal, she will release them as she is getting ample nutrition elsewhere.
In addition, if your female can see a male, this increases the chance that she will drop her eggs. On the other hand, if she recently bred, she may be conditioned to release the eggs rather than reabsorb them. Either way, it is not an unusual occurrence, nor is it anything to be concerned about.
What Should I do if my Female Betta Fish Lays Eggs when there is not a Male?
If you have a female betta fish that frequently, or occasionally, lays eggs without a male present and does not eat them, you will have to keep a close eye on your water parameters. The eggs will quickly fungus over and start releasing toxic ammonia that could put your betta’s life at risk.
Vacuum the bottom of the tank more frequently than normal, as the female will lose eggs in the substrate. Aside from increased cleaning, the rest of your betta’s care should stay the same. Turn on the lights, feed a normal amount of food, and keep the parameters stable. Interact with your fish, as usual, keep a close eye on her weight and the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
If your female is looking particularly skinny, you may want to feed some extra food. Or feed “treat” food, such as brine shrimp, blackworms, and other high-quality frozen food. Simply check water parameters more often and do more frequent water changes, as well as spot cleaning any eggs you see.
Eggs in a Sorority Tank
A sorority tank is an aquarium that houses multiple female bettas, at least 5-7, and is normally 40 gallons. These fish are typically moved into the aquarium together when they are just a few weeks old. While these fish are normally bought from pet stores, it is possible to buy young bettas from breeders. This is beneficial because many breeders will raise siblings together for several months. Since the bettas have not yet been separated, they will get along swimmingly.
Placing them together when they are still young means they will be more tolerant of one another. If you add in just one adult to an already established group of female bettas, you risk upturning the hierarchy, making a bloodbath. The bettas establish their own territories and pecking order, which you can manipulate when they are young, but not when they are older.
If you have all female bettas in a sorority and one lays/drops eggs, you will not have to do any extra cleanup. Bettas are carnivorous, so even if the one that dropped the eggs doesn’t eat them, the others will. Unfortunately, this also includes eggs that a female may bring into a nest, which will result in one or more fights. It is a good idea to add Indian almond leaves and other infection preventatives if a betta is injured.
However, since the bettas are normally brought together when they are all young, it is possible that one or more is actually a male rather than a female. Some males can display a false ovipositor, or egg spot, for over a year.
If you get eggs in a community tank, you must be absolutely sure that all your bettas are female. If one ends up being male, you will need to remove them from the tank, otherwise, he will constantly be spawning with the other females, which will lead to fighting and very likely some death.
Females Making Bubble Nests
In addition to laying eggs without a male present, some females will also randomly make bubble nests. In general, a female making a bubble nest seems to be rarer than one dropping eggs. This is especially true if a female is making a bubble nest when a male is not present.
Sometimes when a male has made a bubble nest and is putting eggs in it, a female will make her own bubble nest (normally smaller) and attempt to care for some of the eggs in her nest as well. It is very rare to see this behavior, though it does happen. It is best to remove the female at this point, as the male will likely see her as a threat. This could result in the male, female, and eggs being harmed.
If your female begins to make a bubble nest, this is a strong indicator that she is ready to spawn. It may also be an early warning sign that she may release her eggs on her own. While this is not always the case, it is something to pay extra attention to so that you can avoid an ammonia or nitrite spike.
In conclusion, female betta fish can lay/release eggs without a male betta being present. This is a normal and natural thing, and it is not a sign of illness or something wrong with your fish. In fact, it is typically an indicator of a healthy adult betta who is being fed an excellent diet.